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Events and Battle Reports

I love bikes, especially Space Marine bikes. I like the +1 Toughness. I like the snazzy rapid-fire rules. But mostly I just like how they look. 

In my Fighting Tigers army, I have a regular Bike Squad and an Attack Bike Squad, but I rarely use them. When it comes to Fast Attack choices, Assault Squads are just as fast as bikes, hit harder in close combat, and can come in larger sizes (up to 10). Speeders are faster than bikes, are a little bit cheaper (all things considered), can’t be tied up in hand-to-hand combat, and can throw down obscene amounts of firepower. So usually, my bike squads stay at home.

Fighting Tiger bike with flamerAttack Bike
Left: Fighting Tiger Bike. How 'bout dem whitewall tires?
Right: Attack Bike with heavy bolter. Whoop-ass on wheels!

Return to Area 31
On January 20, 2001, I entered another tournament at Area 31, the gaming store where I won the "For the Sword!" tourney in November, 2000.

There was nothing flashy about this tournament—no gleaming sword for a prize, no wacky scenarios, special rules, nada. Four battles, 1700 points, one detachment, 2-hour time limit per game. For the previous tournament I had taken a largely static, very shooty army. While there’s nothing wrong with that, I was ready for a change: after all, I frequently find myself playing a “stand back and shoot” army because my regular opponent, Pat, plays the most vicious Orks you’ll ever face. In addition, I had the chance to break out those bikes and try them out against a variety of opponents. 

My Fighting Tigers army is divided into two complementary parts: Jatis Mahaduyana (the orange and black Tigers), which emphasizes firepower, and Jatis Ghuyarashtra (the yellow and brown Tigers), which emphasizes speed. Usually I take units from both; on one occasion, just on a whim and because it fit the “story” of the battle and my Tigers’ background, I took an army using only units from Jatis Mahaduyana.

Because my bike units belong to Jatis Ghuyarashtra, I thought it might be fun to try something similar and restrict myself to units from that jatis: only “brown Tigers” today! If it didn’t have brown stripes, I wasn’t taking it. With these thoughts in mind I assembled Strike Force Marut, taking its name from the wind deities of Hindu mythology. 

Strikeforce Marut

Tanadar Devi. Leader w/ power weapon, bolt pistol, Terminator honors, and purity seals
65 pts
Tigers of Rudra, Squad 1. Vet. Sgt Gupta w/ bolter-flamer, power weapon, and purity seal; 8 Marines w/ bolters; 1 Marine w/ meltagun
205 pts
Maneater II. Transport for Squad 1: Rhino w/ extra armor, smoke launchers, pintle-mounted storm bolter, H-K
88 pts
Tigers of Rudra, Squad 2. Accompanies Devi. Vet. Sgt Patel w/ bolt pistol, power weapon; 3 Marines w/ bolters; 1 Marine w/ flamer
111 pts
Maneater III. Transport for Squad 2: Rhino w/ extra armor, smoke launchers, pintle-mounted storm bolter
68 pts
Tigers of Rudra, Squad 3. Vet. Sgt Kumar w/ storm bolter; 2 Marines w/ bolters; 1 Marine w/ plasma gun; 1 Marine w/ missile launcher
111 pts
Tigers of Puchan. Vet. Scout Sgt. Rajeesh w/ storm bolter; 3 Scouts w/ sniper rifles; 1 Scout w/ heavy bolter
113 pts
Fast Attack
Tigers of Kali (Squad 1). Vet. Sgt. Rajinder w/ bolt pistol and power weapon; 2 Space Marine bikers; 1 biker w/ flamer; 1 biker w/ meltagun; 1 Attack Bike; All have blind grenades
280 pts
Tigers of Kali (Squad 2). Three Attack Bikes w/ heavy bolters and blind grenades
156 pts
Tiger Sharks Squadron. Three Land Speeders w/ multi-meltas
195 pts
Heavy Support
Tigers of Agni. Vet. Sgt. Kazi w/ bolter- grenade launcher; 2 Marines w/ missile launchers; 1 Marine w/ plasma cannon; 1 Marine w/ lascannon
210 pts
Sabretooth. Whirlwind w/ H-K, extra armor, and smoke launchers
98 pts
1700 pts

As you can see, a nice solid firepower base (a 5-man Tactical Squad, the Scouts, the Devastators, and the Whirlwind) with lots of mobility (two Tactical Squads in Rhinos, the Bike Squads, and 3 Land Speeders). I would have preferred more Tactical Marines, but these were all the ones I had from Jatis Ghuyarashtra. A balanced list, I think; at the very least, it would probably score well for composition. 

Strikeforce Marut
Above: Strikeforce Marut, ready for the tournament

What happened?
Game 1: Recon vs. Black Templars. I played against my old 40K pal Nathan, who brought a killer army complete with two Land Raider Crusaders. Ouch! I put up a good fight, but at the end of 5 turns, it was Black Templars 1577, Tigers 1258.

Game 2: Cleanse vs. Alaitoc Eldar. My opponent, Pat Castleman (not to be confused with my regular sparring partner, Patrick Eibel), was new to 40K, and I had never played against Alaitoc, so we took our time. Time was called after 3 turns, with each of us having 1 board quarter and the other 2 in contention. Hey, I don’t mind a tie against the Eldar….

Game 3: Night Fight vs. Ulthwe Eldar. “Dear, we have to stop meeting like this—your husband is starting to suspect.” Just by luck of the draw, I wound up against Paul’s wife Jeannette, whom I’ve played twice before on two different occasions. Time was called after 3 turns again, with Jeanette having 1 board quarter and the other 3 in contention. Second loss of the day for the Scrapping Puddytats….

Game 4: Recon vs. Thousand Sons. Mike Somerville, whom I defeated in the finals of the "For the Sword!" tourney, got his revenge with 30 of the Sons, some vicious Terminators, and 3 Havoc Squads. I had never played against Thousand Sons before, so you can imagine how I felt when I found out that my bolters and sniper rifles were useless against them. I put up a good fight, but in the end, it was Sons 1536, Tigers 1061.

Three games lost, one game tied. Not a good day at the office, but honestly, it was a lot of fun! 

Veteran Sergeant Rajinder
Above: Veteran Sergeant Rajinder leads the bikes

You would think that at my age I would know better…
Sometimes I’m my own worst enemy. Bikes are fast but somehow I always seem to get them caught in hand-to-hand combat and slowly chewed up by the enemy—and in these last four games, when that happened, it was over for Our Heroes in Stripes.

In Game 1, I was going along pretty well, running the bikes up the lefthand side of the board towards the Black Templars’ deployment zone, where I already had the Scout Squad waiting. If I could get the Bikes and the Attack Bikes back there with the Scouts, I could score a lot of bonus points. 

Being no dummy, Nathan moved one of his Dreadnoughts over to intercept: did I use my superior speed to stay out of harm’s way? NO! I moved within 4", counting on my melta gun to take out his Dread. Of course, because I was taking such a risky gamble, the melta gun failed to so much as glance, even at such close range. His Dread spent a few turns crunching my Bikes, did a sweeping advance, and wound up in my deployment zone at the end of the game, giving Nathan more points. 

What I should have done was use my speed to lure the Dread further and further away from my lines, stringing him along and never letting him get near my deployment zone. I would have had plenty of opportunities to slip my Attack Bikes behind his Dread and keep shooting it with heavy bolters until it fell.

When fighting Eldar, I prefer to get into hand-to-hand combat as soon as possible to negate the firepower of starcannons and bright lances. In Game 2, I charged my bikes up the middle of the board and was jumped by Pat’s Striking Scorpions. 

Though my Bikes beat his Scorpions and my Attack Bikes beat his nearby Fire Dragons, those units shouldn’t have even been there: as it was, my two units of mobile Tactical Squads and my Space Marine Hero never got into hand-to-hand combat. I should have kept my bikes on the edge of the board and let my Tigers of Rudra rumble with the Scorps and the Dragons.

Strikeforce Marut

Same sort of thing happened in Game 3: the Seer Council dropped out of their Wave Serpent right onto my Bike Squad and slowly harshed it. This time, the Hero and the Tac Squads got into the fight, but again, I could have avoided all that unpleasantness by keeping my Bikes far away from the middle of the board.

My bikes actually did very well in Game 4. They ran up the left side of the board, used cover to block line of sight for the defending Sorcerer and Havoc Squad, nailed both of the enemy units, then slid into the Thousand Son deployment zone, where all I had to do was sit tight. But I moved my Bikes a bit too close to polish off another Havoc Squad, and Mike’s Chaos Lord jumped me. End of story.

What to do, what to do
In my own defense, I haven’t used bikes that much in 3rd Edition, and when I have, I’ve been trying to use them like I would Ork Warbikes, Dark Eldar Reavers, or Chaos Bikes—ride in, fire off some shots, whoop some ass in hand-to-hand. Problem is that Space Marine Bikes aren’t ass-whoopers in close combat (“DUH!”). Now I know better. 

My pal Ken Lacy once said that one should consider Space Marine Bikes as a smaller, faster Tactical Squad unit—and he’s right, of course. I’ve been given my Bike Squad a flamer and a melta gun and equipped my Veteran Sergeant with a power weapon, but my bikes really have no business being anywhere near the enemy to use those weapons. As I’ve found out the hard way, my bikes must avoid—at all costs—getting caught in close combat.

My Bike Squad got thrashed again: 
what am I going to do with these guys--errr--girls?

In close combat, the Bike Squad’s Toughness of 5 certainly slows down the enemy—(most) Eldar in particular have a hard time taking out Bikers in hand-to-hand. But the bikes lack the hitting power and the numbers to win most close combats, and all the while they're stuck boxing with the bad guys, they’re not using their nifty special weapons, heavy weapons, and rapid-firing bolters. Worst of all, when they’re in close combat they’re not going anywhere. A few cheap Guardians or a Grot mob can stall the bikes, whittle them down, and hold them long enough for a REAL ass-kicking unit (say, some Howling Banshees or ‘Ard Boyz) to come along and polish them off.

I apologize if all this seems obvious to you, the reader. Bear with me: some of us have to learn stuff the hard way….

“Sad but wiser?” Hopefully wiser, but definitely not sad…
Despite my poor showing in the tournament, I really did have a lot of fun. What helped my attitude most was realizing from the beginning that I would be experimenting. Thus, I could play for fun, take some risks, learn some things about my army and the ones I fought, and not worry about winning any prizes. My opponents were great players and cool people, and it was a real pleasure to meet some new people. Thanks again to everyone!

Related Pages
"For the Sword!" Tournament

Posted  January 2001


Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle